Cloud-based dairy supply chain software company Milk Moovement contends the US$600 billion global dairy industry has ‘yet to experience a major digital transformation’. But change is coming, the US-based food tech company believes. Finite delivery windows of perishable products and constantly shifting consumer preferences make the industry ‘ripe for disruption’ -- and Milk Moovement wants to be at the forefront of this.
Founded in 2018, the company hopes to shift the dairy industry from its reliance on paper-to-pen and legacy systems onto the cloud. This, we were told, will create full supply chain visibility for dairy farmers and their distribution partners to track and route shipments in real-time and optimise delivery schedules.
Ultimately, this approach has the potential to answer some of the big challenges the sector faces around efficiency, waste, profitability and climate impact, Chief Executive Robert Forsythe explained.
“We are helping usher our partners that still use pen and paper and legacy systems into the digital era. Like other traditional industries, legacy software fails to provide its partners with tools that allow for dynamic, modern supply chains. This results in manual data entry, inaccurate data, and costly mistakes. Our software allows all partners in a supply chain to work off of the same, up-to-date data in real-time in order to communicate more effectively and make smarter decisions,” the digital innovator told this publication.
“We see massive opportunities to solve the challenges dairy faces in the coming years… Once the data is in front of us, possibilities are really endless.”
‘Digitalise to optimise’
Digitalising supply chain information and leaning on real-time-data can help facilitate the smooth running of dairy supply chains, Milk Moovement maintains. This message strikes a particular chord at time when multiple challenges – from COVID-19 to war in Ukraine – have put the spotlight on the fragility of global supply chains and the impact disruption can have on consumer goods.
“Our approach is simplified with two words - digitise and optimise. When we start with new clients, we initially digitise their supply chain, because lacking or omitted data makes it very difficult to find improvements. Optimisation is where we are able to use the data to help our partners solve challenges. For example, we help clients build smarter, more efficient routes which leads to both cost savings and environmental improvements,” Forsythe reflected.
Milk Moovement currently has a network of 2,500 dairy farms and over 5,000 users including global Fortune 100 CPGs. The company manages over 30 billion pounds of raw milk each year, which equates to about 15% of the US dairy market. And it is growing at pace. Over the past year, Milk Moovement saw its annual recurring revenue grow by more than ten times. At the forefront of this growth are early adopters of Milk Moovement, including the second largest milk cooperative in the US California Dairies Inc.
According to Jafar Shahwan, Vice President of Supply Chain at California Dairies Inc., embracing Milk Moovement’s new approach to dairy supply chain management has ‘unlocked our imagination on how dairy supply chains should operate’, allowing a cooperative that has more than 300 farms and produces more than 17 billion pounds of milk annually manage this complexity effectively.
“The software brings all stakeholders together in real-time, which allows for clarity and visibility on key elements of our operations,” Shahwan said, noting that implementing the digital tools has changed ‘the way business is managed, decisions are made, and communication flows’.
Premium price positioning ‘certainly an investment’
Milk Moovement’s target customers come from across the dairy supply chain. “Historically our key clients have been dairy cooperatives, but our users span from suppliers, producers, haulers, cooperatives, and processors. With this new funding, we will also be focusing heavily on dairy processors as we build upon our mission of getting the right milk to the right place at the right time,” the group’s chief executive said.
Globally, already tight dairy producer margins are being further squeezed by higher costs for inputs like fuel, fertiliser and feed. Likewise, dairy processors are seeing margins come under pressure from rising milk prices and higher energy costs. In a sector where margin is frequently a concern, what level of up-front investment does the transition to Milk Moovement’s digital system require?
“Switching to Milk Moovement is certainly an investment,” Forsythe responded. “We have premium pricing because we are certain that we have the market-leading product. Some key benefits include modern and easy-to-use cloud-based technology, consistent pricing (without costly add-ons for customisation), on-farm milk prediction, real-time driver tracking, and tons more,” we were told.
But Forsythe is convinced this investment will pay off for farmers and dairy processors, helping them become a more efficient and ultimately profitable businesses. “We frequently hear from our customers that we have transformed the way they do business and they have more nimble, dynamic supply chains since adopting Milk Moovement.”
Fresh investment to fuel growth
Milk Moovement has just secured $20m in additional funding, closing its Series A funding round to support its expansion and accelerate product development. The company announced today that it has secured backing from investors including VMG Catalyst, alongside seed investor Richard Cargill and existing investors Dynamo Ventures, Bread & Butter Ventures, Matchstick Ventures, and SOSV who continued to support Milk Moovement in this latest round.
VMG Catalyst General Partner Carle Stenmark revealed the investment group ‘immediately saw the value’ Milk Moovement brings to the dairy industry. “Real-time data transparency is critical for managing perishables and provides tremendous benefit to all the constituents in the dairy value chain," the investment lead said.
Concurrent to the completion of Series A funding round, Ecolab, a global leader in hygiene and infection prevention solutions, made a minority equity investment in Milk Moovement. “We have been impressed by Milk Moovement’s cloud-based platform and its potential to connect all players along the dairy supply chain and transform value delivery and stakeholder experience,” said Sam Hsu, Ecolab EVP of Strategic Planning.
So, what’s next on the agenda for Milk Moovement?
“Most importantly for our existing and future clients, these funds will be used to continue building the best dairy supply chain software in the world. We’re focused primarily on building our engineering and product teams to help us achieve our aggressive goals. We are in constant communication with our clients on ways to make their jobs easier and more efficient, and we’ll continue to build Milk Moovement based on their feedback,” Forsythe concluded.